Scouting the D League: Sims and Ewing Jr.

TKB is fortunate to have friends everywhere and we were fortunate to have  one of our foot soldiers, whose opinion we really trust, at the game last night in Iowa between the Iowa Energy and the Reno Big Horns. I asked him to specifically pay attention to Courtney Sims (Iowa)  and Patrick Ewing Jr. (Reno)  Finger point to RTN for the analysis.

“…Sims might have just had a bad night, but he was pretty disappointing. He is extremely slow getting up and down the floor. He sort of has an awkward gait and takes a long time to reach full speed. That said, he is very long and has good hands. This allows him to dominate the paint in the D-league, and probably accounts for his stats. As far as the NBA is concerned, I see him as backup center on a halfcourt team at best. I don’t think he has the footspeed to succeed in  D’Antoni’s system. Maybe he could play a role like Brian Skinner did on Phoenix, but I wasn’t all that impressed. Again, I’m basing my analysis on only one game, so take it for what it is.

As far as Patrick is concerned, I was very impressed. This guy absolutely dominated the game, and not by scoring the ball. He was awesome defensively, getting blocks, steals, and boards at will. This was not surprising – he was a far superior athlete to anyone in the building.

What impressed me most was his passing. Reno would put him in the high post and run the offense through him. He consistently made good decisions and hit backdoor cutters with pinpoint bounce passes. You see a lot of great raw athletes come into the league and fail because they are offensive liabilities. The difference with Ewing Jr. is that he seems to have a really high basketball IQ. His post game also showed some promise. On one move, he caught the ball on the right block, fought off the double team, and finished with a fluid spin move and left-handed jump hook off the glass from about 8 feet out. It was a pretty move, no question. He has really good footwork as a big man.

That said, he really has no J at all. Watching him in warmups was pretty ugly. He was probably about 30% on uncontested 15-18 footers. He eventually gave up and settled for putting on a dunk show for the crowd, which was fine by me. He pulled the Kobe dunk from the ’97 dunk contest – he elevated, did a 180 while passing the ball from his left to right hand behind his back, and finishing with right handed tomahawk. The whole building went crazy. He also did a statue-of-liberty semi-facial on a fastbreak during the game. His head was literally at rim level.

The verdict? Patrick Ewing Jr. should be on an NBA roster. He was clearly the best player on the floor throughout the night, and has a poise about him that can’t really be taught. Despite only joining the team last week, Patrick was leading the pre-game huddle and calling the shots on defense. My buddy, a die-hard Pistons fans, agreed that he needs to be in the league. However, until he develops at least a passable jumpshot, he probably wouldn’t see any minutes in a D’antoni system. He has good form, so there is some potential for improvement. But as of now, defenders can lag off him and neutralize him as an offensive threat.

I see his ceiling as a combination of what Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza give to the Lakers right now. A guy who comes off the bench, can give you a presence in the post, can handle the rock a little bit, make some plays for his teammates, but isn’t the best shooter in the world. He’s a guy that can really fill up a stat sheet, a lot like Odom and Ariza can.

For the Knicks, I think the first priority should be to sign a combo guard to alleviate the burden on Duhon and Robinson. But as soon as Marbury gets cut, then Ewing Jr. should be signed for the rest of the season. He’s worth developing…”

To me his ceiling is closer to Ariza than Odom but the combination part I get. Great insight. We’ll be covering more D League games as the season roles along.